(BPT) - Can’t wait to go hunting or fishing on your back 40? Or maybe you just love watching wildlife in the backyard through your kitchen window? If you want to attract more deer, wild turkey, quail, fox or other wildlife, there are a number of things you can do to make your land more attractive.
Whether you own a hobby farm, a ranch or a few acres of land that you’d like to keep wild, according to the yard-care experts at Toro, manufacturer of the high-quality, reliable zero turn mowers built to mow big acreage, the key to attracting more wildlife to your property is to better understand the wildlife you want to attract and their habitat needs, which includes a consistent food supply, clean water and places to hide from predators or to nest.
In other words, leaving your land wild is not enough. Follow these 10 tips from the folks at Toro to make your land more inviting for deer, birds and fish.
1. Cultivate buffer zones near water sources – Clean drinking water is essential to wildlife of all types. If there’s a stream, pond or lake that connects with your property, create buffer areas where you allow grasses, weeds, shrubs and trees to grow wild. Buffer areas reduce run-off from your yard, including lawn chemicals, mud, lawn clippings, etc., from entering the water, which can pollute water sources and accelerate algae growth.
2. Create food plots – To attract more deer and other wildlife to your land, consider dedicating a portion of your land to planting food that wildlife like to eat, such as corn, soybeans, clover, alfalfa, grains and even pumpkins. Don’t forget to remove rocks and debris from your food plots, which can potentially damage a mower’s blades.
3. Create an access trail – Animals, like humans, can have difficulty navigating thick undergrowth and woody areas. To make it easier for wildlife, such as deer, turkey, bear and other creatures, to move around, clear a trail for them near habitat that also allows them to hide quickly should a predator be close by. If your land is fenced in, consider creating spots within the fence that allow certain types of wildlife to enter.
4. Mowing for better wildlife habitat – First, check with your local municipality about ordinances regarding mowing requirements and the management of weeds. For wildlife-friendly yards, maintain a grass height of 3 inches. A Toro Titan zero-turn mower can be easily adjusted for precise cutting. For field areas, rotate mowing over a three-to-five-year period to control the growth of native shrubs and tree saplings. Designate blocks of field or meadow or wide strip areas that you won’t mow during the spring and summer when birds and other desirable wildlife are nesting.
5. Create hiding and nesting spots – Use branches, grass clippings, mulch and other materials to create specific spots on your land where wildlife can hide or nest. Plant shrubs and tall grasses near food plots to provide cover for wildlife. For example, if you need to take down a tree, strategically place the branches into brush piles throughout your property to create hiding and nesting spots. Likewise, fish need protective habitat, too. Where permitted, consider sinking rocks, boulders, logs and discarded Christmas trees in water that is out of the way of boating navigation channels.
6. Bee friendly – Consider not mowing and delay clearing leaves during that transition time between spring and summer when bees are at their most vulnerable as they come out of winter hibernation. In addition, leave fall leaves until it warms up outside. Leaves serve as habitat for salamanders, mice, snakes, worms and small lizards, which wild turkey and other wildlife desire.
7. Have the right tools to do the job – Managing your land to more effectively attract wildlife is a big job that requires the right tools. For taking care of more than an acre of land, use a zero-turn mower that will cut your mow time significantly. Toro also offers a 60-volt line of battery-powered equipment that not only has the power to trim shrubs and trees, but also to work quietly. Battery-powered tools like Toro’s 60-volt pole saw or chain saw can help you get the job done right.
8. Add bird feeders and bat houses – To attract more songbirds to your property, consider adding bird feeders around your property. Bats are very useful in keeping down mosquitos — consider installing bat houses, too.
9. Plant nut and fruit trees – Many types of wildlife rely on the nuts and fruits produced by trees. For example, acorns are a key food source for wild turkey and other wildlife species. And because food plots can take a lot of time, some deer hunters prefer to plant orchards of fruit- and nut-bearing trees, which also provide habitat for birds and squirrels. Consider planting Dunstan chestnut, white oak, apple, pear and persimmon trees.
10. Create patches of gravel, grit and sand – Birds such as wild turkey, pheasants, ruffed grouse and quail need to eat grit (crushed gravel) to help them digest food. Consider creating small patches of grit and sand near food sources and water to attract game birds.
To learn more about how to tame your land, visit Toro.com/zeroturn.